FDI Attraction: the Italian way

Time to invest in Italy

Time to invest in Italy

Vice Minister Calenda seeks to turn the page on how Italy manages FDI

by Carmine Fotina

Missions abroad and more effective assistance inside Italy. The Vice Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda is trying to turn a page on how the country manages foreign investment.

“In each of the most attractive markets, we are moving ahead in two specific phases,” he said in an interview. “The public presentation of investment opportunities in specific sectors, not generically, and private meetings with leading business families.”

He noted that emerging market are going through a tough phase but that there has been a growing sense that the entrepreneurial class, individuals and companies, are looking to invest in markets considered more secure.

Italy's portfolio contains significant real estate assets that have piqued the interest of major institutional investors over the past few years.

The government is in the process of winnowing through 1,000 assets that are worth €10-15 billion. So far, there are 160 properties currently listed by the Ministry of Economic Development, of which 60 could be candidates for foreign direct investment.

After Istanbul, Calenda said, the Ministry will move to a traditional market that's long been a priority for Italy--the US.

“I'll be in San Francisco in January to scout for potential investors in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sectors,” he said. “Then New York, where we are very optimistic about meetings with the financial community.”

The Ministry's idea is that each one of its international stops will correspond with the opening of a new Desk, a kind of organizational and communications clearinghouse, to attract, inform and follow investment in Italy, with Istanbul being the first stop.

Calenda acknowledged that marketing is not enough.

“Effective customer care is needed to follow up with investors, and we are already seeing positive results from this,” he said. “We have finally been able to provide a guide for essential information for anyone who wants to come to Italy (to invest). It's hard to believe, but we have never had that kind of tool.”

There are also other initiatives in the works.

“We are counting a lot on the creation of a real Exim Bank that will advance current synergies between SACE and SIMEST, with the coordination of state-owned bank Cassa depositi e prestiti,” he said. “I think that will be an important part of the CDP's new business plan.”

Meanwhile, the prime minister’s office at Palazzo Chigi is working on it's Doing Business Act, with specific measures and improvements on how to attract investment.